Fire guts textile market in Haitian capital

2018-02-19 21:07
Firefighters work to extinguish a massive fire at the biggest clothing market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Dieu Nalio Chery, AP)

Firefighters work to extinguish a massive fire at the biggest clothing market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Dieu Nalio Chery, AP)

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Port-au-Prince – A fire gutted a textiles market in Haiti's capital on Sunday, less than a week after a blaze partially destroyed a historic market, underscoring authorities' failure to ensure public safety.

Officials in Port-au-Prince sent in the few fire trucks available to fight the blaze. They were reinforced by private water tankers and police and UN vehicles outfitted with water cannons, normally used for crowd control.

The capital's mayor voiced regret at authorities' poor capacity to protect people in Haiti, the most impoverished nation in the Americas.

"It's the weakness of the state, communities, the weakness of Haiti. This fire could have been avoided but the equipment is not there," Mayor Youri Chevry said. "It's our fault, all of us.

"We have a problem and we have to manage our priorities," he stressed.

Dozens of vendors sat by helpless. One woman fretted that her children only had her to support them, and that losing her wares meant she'd never be able to repay a small loan she took out to start her business.

It was not immediately known what started the blaze.

Last Tuesday, a fire destroyed one of two halls at the 19th century Iron Market in Port-au-Prince. Damage for the building was estimated at between $5-7m, without including the value of destroyed goods.

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